In certain cases, trimming a cat’s claws may be necessary – for example, if the cat’s claws do not grow properly due to illness, or the cat is elderly and can no longer trim its claws itself through scratching. Our guide explains how to trim a cat’s claws correctly — and not lose an eye! Also see: How to wash a cat — and survive.
Trim a cat’s claws correctly: do you need to?
Is it sensible, necessary or perhaps rather harmful? And how can I trim a cat’s claws correctly myself? Many cat owners ask themselves these questions, because with many other pets the “pedicure” is common – for example, the cutting of horse hooves, the trimming of dog claws or the claw cutting of guinea pigs. In cats, too, it may be necessary in certain cases to cut the claws themselves or have them cut by the veterinarian.
Whether you need to cut your cat’s claws, how to trim a cat’s claws correctly and other helpful tips about cat claws are outlined below.
If a cat’s claws do not wear off by themselves, it may be necessary to cut the cat claws. Many cat owners imagine this very difficult or are afraid to hurt their cat. In the following guide we explain what to consider when cutting claws and give tips on how to deal with aggressive cats.
Tips to trim a cat’s claws correctly
Under no circumstances should a human nail clipper be used for claw cutting if you want to trim a cat’s claws correctly -– the claws can split or break off during cutting, which can cause bleeding and inflammation of the claw bag or claw bed. It is best to use a normal nail scissors or a special claw scissors — these are available from most pet shops for just a few dollars. When cutting, it is important not to cut the cat claws too short. As with human fingernails, the claw bed in cats is very sensitive and bleeds heavily in case of injuries. It is best not to cut off the whole claw immediately, but to work slowly and carefully to the appropriate length. The following applies: as little as possible, as much as necessary.
Keeping the cat calm
If a cat is not used to it, it does not allow itself or is extremely reluctant to let you cut its claws. Cats are inherently idiosyncratic animals and cannot be held in the same way as dogs or rabbits. Instead of tight packing, one should pay attention to light but continuous body contact. Calmness, serenity and gentleness are always conducive, at the same time one must not be hesitant or anxious, because this also causes uncertainty in the cat. If you approach them with a calm voice and caress them continuously, this also has a calming effect on the cat.
Cat injured while trimming – what to do?
If you accidentally cut too far and hit a blood vessel, you should stop immediately and press a handkerchief or similar until the bleeding is stopped. Disinfection can be carried out with normal means for humans, but is not really necessary.
Instructions: how to trim a cat’s claws correctly
Note the following tips to trim a cat’s claws correctly: It is best to put the cat on a table and have it held by a second person. For this purpose, she sits on the right side of the holding person with right-handers. The hands lie on the shoulders of the cat, thumbs on the back and the remaining fingers loosearound the limbs, so that they can keep the paw calm in case of sudden movements.
The helper’s elbow can be supported so that the cat can be concealed in the arm bend and at the same time prevented from retreating. The front paws can then be stretched individually by light but certain pressure and the claws can be cut. The leg must be fully stretched, otherwise the claws will not be extended.
For claw cutting on the hind paws, it is best to place the cat on the side, with its head on the forearm of the assistant. This can then fix the front legs to the elbows and the hind legs to the heels of the cat with one hand, while you cut the claws at the back.
Claw trimming in aggressive cats
In an aggressive cat, work gloves can protect yourself from scratch injuries. Alternatively, the cat can be wrapped in a towel and the paws can be stretched out individually – however, this method is recommended at most in an emergency due to the relatively rabid procedure and to fear of a breach of trust between the owner and the cat. Have claws cut by the vet If you can’t cut the claws yourself, for example because the cat fights back or you have trouble cutting properly, you should go to the vet. He has the appropriate skills, experience, tools and specially trained assistance. In addition, he can calm the cat in difficult cases with a mild drug.
How often should you trim the claws?
Depending on the reason of the claw cutting, the procedure should be repeated approximately every two to three weeks to trim a cat’s claws correctly. Excessive growth and other diseases and disorders may require shorter intervals. In case of doubt, you should ask your veterinarian for advice and let him show you how to trim a cat’s claws correctly.
What cat claws are needed for
Cats are hunters – they need their claws to kill prey. In clashes, they defend themselves by scratching and biting. In the case of free-range cats, cats are mainly dependent on their claws to defend their territory, but female cats can also be involved in disputes and rank-and-order battles. In addition, cats absolutely need their claws for climbing, not only on tall trees. Without claws, even in the case of pure apartment cats, there can be falls of cupboards, window sills and other elevated positions. Cats like to sit elevated and observe their surroundings. It is not advisable to deprive you of this possibility of withdrawal and natural behavior.
Clawing is used for personal care
In cats, scratching is primarily used to care for the constantly growing claws, which are very similar to the fingernails of humans. Just like hair, claws grow from their base to the top. These are special formations of the skin, which initially grow as a soft horn and are surrounded by a so-called claw sleeve. As a rule, these pods can only be seen as a narrow hem around the claw base or not at all, because they are covered by the fur. The claw sleeves are stripped off by the claw-scratching. Only then can the initially relatively soft claw horn harden properly in the air without becoming brittle, breaking off prematurely or growing crooked. In order for the cat to show this natural behavior undisturbed, a suitable scratch toy should be present in every apartment.
Scratching as dominance behavior
In addition, scratching is also an expression of the cat’s dominance behavior – it is particularly popular in the presence of inferior, lower-ranked contemporaries. In addition to spraying urine, scratchmarks are often placed on vertical objects, such as trees or posts, for the area marking. They serve as an additional optical marking.
Do you have to trim cat claws – yes or no?
In principle, cat claws do not need to be cut. As a rule, they use themselves evenly and by themselves through daily use. In certain situations, however, it may be necessary to cut his cat’s claws, for example: if clawing is not possible severe illness, coma, long hospital stay chronic weakness Injuries and bandading of the limbs if the claws do not grow normally brittle in old cats, too soft claw horn genetic disorders (misalignments) Metabolic disorders with effects on horn growth
Diseases of the skin and claw
If the claws get too long … Even if there is a scratching tree in the apartment or the cat is a free-rider, it can happen that the claws do not wear out properly and become too long – then they should definitely be cut to prevent the cat from injury by growing the claws into the paw protect. Due to the pain, cats will no longer load their limbs normally in such a case, which can even lead to misalignments of the legs and spine and associated severe pain over a long period of time.
Too long claws also easily get stuck in meshes or textiles and can break out or tear off during the liberation attempt, which can lead to severe bleeding and severe inflammation. The affected claw may need to be surgically removed.
When can you trim cat claws?
The age of the cat does not play a role in claw cutting – with some practice you can also cut the claws of cat babies well yourself. However, one should of course be especially careful with young animals and do not make the experience unpleasant by rough treatment. The cat will otherwise later resist it and develop great fear of claw cutting or the human being himself.
Claw trimming in old cats
Old cats can no longer digest normal food as well and no longer use the ingredients as well as younger animals. This is why they often develop rough fur, scaly skin and brittle claws. In addition, the claws grow faster and softer and therefore deform more easily. Old cats should therefore be supplied with better digestible, higher-quality senior food from specialist retailers – it contains many fatty acids, minerals and vitamins and has a positive effect on hair and horn growth as well as on overall health. If the veterinarian still considers the claw cutting to be necessary, one should proceed with particular care and caution.
Regularly trim claws in Sphynx cats
Normally, there are no breed-specific differences when cutting claws. An exception are the Sphynx cats, whose claws are particularly sharp and strongly bent. Here it is extremely important to cut the claws regularly to prevent injuries.
When the cat scratches the sofa
The clawing of furniture, wallpaper or other objects in the house is usually the reason for the cat owner to want to cut his cat’s claws. The problem is usually not with the cat. The following situations often lead to increased scratching behaviour in cats: Boredom Stress, anxiety or pain due to illness or injury lack of attention by the owner, Defense against apparent dangers (e.g. sudden movements, shouting, strangers) Aggression towards other cats or humans (for example due to bad experiences in the past, mistreatment by the previous owner)
When finding the cause, it is important to take a lot of time and to observe your cat closely. In the best case, one speaks to a specialist, for example the veterinarian, and can be advised by him on the further procedure. The scratch tree makes claw cutting unnecessary For pure apartment cats, it is essential to provide a scratching tree so that they can use their claws. This is also advisable and helpful to prevent them from scratching other objects. Newly purchased, very young or newly moved cats must be shown the scratch tree at least once. As a rule, a cat will quickly learn that it is allowed to sharpen its claws there and, if otherwise optimal, will not get hold of other objects or furniture. In addition, the scratch tree can also serve as a retreat and viewing platform, for example through elevated plains or small caves.
Build a scratch tree yourself
You can also build a scratch tree yourself. Optimal is a thick wooden trunk, which is wrapped with an old carpet, other coarse-fibrous textiles, a coarse knit or similar materials and which is well glued or tackered to the wood. The stitches should not be too fine, so that the cat does not accidentally get caught with the claws in it. The scratch tree should be fixed and not wobble. If it is worn out, it should be replaced in whole or in individual parts. Most cats have to get used to the new scratch tree, but will have accepted it well after one to two weeks at the latest and use it as usual.
Scratch board for clawing
Alternatively, a scratch board made of softwood can be offered – it is attached to the wall. However, there is a danger that the cat with its scratching behavior also spreads to the wallpaper, especially if the worn board is not replaced in time or the cat is otherwise neglected and wants attention.
Pulling cat claws is not a solution
Cats need to be employed. Both bored, stressed or overworked cats tend to have behavioural problems and can quickly cause problems for their owners – for example, by scratching the sofa and furniture in the apartment. Cutting or removing the claws relieves the symptoms, but does not combat the problem. The goal of each owner should be a happy, balanced cat. Pulling the claws of a cat because the owner does not want his cat to hunt and kill, restricts the cat in its natural behavior and should be questioned extremely critically. In case of problems, therefore, a specialist, such as the veterinarian, should always be consulted in order to find the actual cause of the cat’s behaviour and a suitable solution for it. In most cases, it is sufficient to set up a suitable scratch tree in the apartment.
Claws removed as medical treatment
In the case of serious injuries, however, surgical removal of one or more claws may be absolutely necessary. If the cat gets stuck somewhere with its claws, it can happen that it is seriously injured in the claw and claw bed while trying to free itself. If the claw has already been largely torn out and there is no longer any chance of a cure but rather the risk of severe claw bed inflammation, the claw should be removed by the veterinarian under local anesthesia. Otherwise, it could tear off uncontrollably and cause a badly bleeding wound.
Even if there is already a severe inflammation of the claw, the removal of the claw may be necessary. Under no circumstances should the owner pull the claw himself – like the fingernails, cat claws are also sensitive to pain and must be anaesthetized before surgical treatment. In case of painful or inflammatory reddened swelling of the paws, a veterinarian should always be consulted – cats tend to tumours in the claw bed. Therefore, it is important to clarify the actual cause of the change and have it expertly treated.